Jo Wylie ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Video Games Executive Editor
Listen, we know you’re out there. Sony had a great conference, and a lot to get excited for, but there were a couple of points where they lost you a little. “Hey, this looks pretty cool”, you said, nodding, as fellow gamers jumped on their chairs and began smashing windows. “It sounds like it could be a great project,” you agreed, as Shenmue III’s Kickstarter rocketed past $2,000,000 in the first day after its announcement. You’re ready to be excited, but maybe you’re a newer or younger fan than the people Sony was hooking in with their nostalgic hat trick, and you just don’t have the facts.
Have no fear! Here’s a quick run down of the big games announced, what made them so famous in their day, and why the remakes and sequels announced yesterday are so exciting.
Sony kicked off their conference with a stunningly animated gameplay demo for The Last Guardian. The slowly falling feather, and the arrow-riddled onto which it fell was enough to get the community riled up because it’s an image we last saw six years ago, at E3 2009. The third in the collection of games that started with Ico and Shadow of the Colossus. Colossus is often lauded as one of the best games of its time, a cinematic masterpiece with great depth, design, and immersion. From the great, sweeping boss fights to the little things – like the connection between the player and their horse – Colossus was a deeply loved game, and its spiritual successor here looks like it will have just as much heart and soul, in the design and animation of the little boy and his giant griffin-like puppy companion, and in the grand imagery an fantastic landscapes.
This is exciting news because it means a lot on a small, personal scale, to a huge swathe of the video game community.
The next big nostalgia reveal most people, at least, will have heard of. Coming from a series of games that have defined the JRPG genre, Final Fantasy VII’s name is known even by those who’ve never picked up any FF games. FF VII is the game that brought the JRPG to foreign markets; every JRPG that you play nowadays, on any platform, owes its success and localization to FF VII’s critical and commercial success. FF VII was the first 3D game in the Final Fantasy series, created on the cusp of video games’ journey away from sprites and into polygons, and often cited as among the top few most pivotal titles in videogame history.
Finally, the big news that had the whole room, and possibly gaming community, on their feet; Sony brought out Yu Suzuki to announce the kickstarter for Shenmue III, and you said “huh, cool,” while some people may have actually died. Shenmue is another game that came about on the cusp of a huge change in the video game industry. Shenmue I and II brought the concept of the open world to a whole new level, with a 3D interactive world featuring day and night cycles, randomly generated weather patterns, and fully voiced NPCs with their own daily routines and habits. In 1999. Also, no big deal, they introduced the modern image of the quick time event, and coined the term. Not only was this an iconic game, it tragically ended on a huge cliffhanger; and for many years it was believed the rest of the story would never be told.
The announcement of Shenmue III means not only a return of a team that truly innovated the industry in there time, but also the resolution of a game that was almost defined by the tragedy of it never being finished. That’s a big deal.
So, that’s the facts. Hopefully anyone who was left a little dazed and perplexed after the Sony conference now have the beginning of an understanding as to why everyone was losing their minds. With a gameplay demo we’ve been waiting six years for, and then a series finale of one game and a remake of another, both older than the majority of the kids playing Call of Duty online, Sony really pulled out every nostalgic title they could get their hands on.